Postpartum depression, also known as PPD is a mood disorder that occurs in women soon after giving birth. During the weeks after childbirth, a mother goes through many emotions that can be very positive, but can also be negative. More than just the baby blues, postpartum depression can be in the form of sadness, anxiety and exhaustion, making it hard to care for yourself and a child.
It is likely the combination of physical and emotional factors, but is NOT caused by anything the mother does or does not do. At childbirth, hormone levels quickly drop which leads to chemical changes in the mother’s brain, which can trigger mood swings. Emotional stressors and changes in relationships can also increase the risk of PPD.
All women who previously had a baby are at the risk for postpartum depression, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or economic background. However some women are at a greater risk. These are the risk factors that increase the chances for postpartum depression:
Everyone is different and the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression vary from mother to mother. Symptoms can begin within days or weeks of childbirth. Sometimes, it can take months for these symptoms to occur. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms below, you should contact your doctor immediately. There are many symptoms of postpartum depression including:
*Having thoughts of harm is a serious and urgent matter. If you are experiencing this, contact your provider immediately.
There are effective treatments for postpartum depression, so it’s important to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms. Treatments range from mother to mother and can be anything from counseling to medication.Counseling and/or talk therapy involves talking with a mental professional one-on-one. Cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy have been proven to be effective in treating postpartum depression.
While PPD can go away on its own, symptoms can go away quicker with the help of your doctor. You can also implement a few lifestyle changes including increasing the amount of sleep you get, exercising, surrounding yourself with positive and caring people, eating regularly and asking for help.
Motherhood can be stressful and scary to navigate this new role. If left untreated, postpartum depression can last anywhere from a few months to even years. Not only does this affect the mother’s health, but it can also affect the baby. For more information on postpartum depression, please visit this page.